Throughout the week, ESPN has been going through each division and crafting All-Decade teams and the best players from each team. For the Texans, the answer is simple. It’s J.J. Watt.
J.J. Watt, DE
Years with team: 2011-present
Since entering the NFL in 2011, Watt has won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and become the face of the Texans franchise. Even though he has missed significant time in three out of the past four seasons, Watt has been Houston’s best player since he was drafted. Since 2011, Watt is tied for second in the NFL in sacks, even though he has played in only 112 games. Few defensive players boast anything that comes close to resembling Watt’s résumé, and the future Hall of Famer is still going strong at age 31.
Last decade, the AFC South had a string of silly coaches. Houston went from Gary Kubiak to Bill O’Brien. Indianapolis morphed Jim Caldwell into John Pagano and then Frank Reich. The Titans couldn’t make anything work until Mike Vrabel’s AFC Championship Game appearance. Doug Marrone flew too close to the sun once. As a result, O’Brien was named as the best coach of the AFC South for the last ten years.
Bill O’Brien, Texans
Years with team: 2014-present
The division titles show why O’Brien was the best coach in the AFC South in the past decade. The Texans have won the division four times in the past five years. Although the Texans have won only two playoff games in that stretch — and every other team in the division has played in an AFC Championship Game since O’Brien was hired in Houston in 2014 — they still have consistently been the most successful team in the AFC South in the regular season. O’Brien faces criticism for his lack of playoff success and the job he has done in his first year as general manager, but as a head coach, he has played an important role in the Texans’ success. — Barshop
As far as the All-Decade team goes, this is what ESPN’s AFC South reporters came up with. The players in bold are the changes I would personally make to their list. I’d add a second running back and a third cornerback as well.
QB: Andrew Luck, Colts, 2012-18
RB: Arian Foster, Texans, 2009-15
(RB: Derrick Henry, Titans, 2016-19)
WR: Andre Johnson, Texans, 2003-14; Colts, 2015; Titans, 2016
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, 2013-19
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Colts, 2012-present
T: Duane Brown, Texans, 2010-17
G: Quenton Nelson, Colts, 2018-present
C: Ben Jones, Texans, 2012-15, Titans, 2016-present
RG: Wade Smith, Texans, 2010-13 (Brandon Brooks, Texans, 2012-15)
T: Jack Conklin, Titans, 2016-19
TE: Delanie Walker, Titans, 2013-19
DE: J.J. Watt, Texans, 2011-present
DT: Jurrell Casey, Titans, 2011-19
DE: Robert Mathis, Colts 2003-16
LB: Darius Leonard, Colts, 2018-present
LB: Jadeveon Clowney, Texans, 2014-18
LB: Paul Posluszny, Jaguars, 2011-17 (Benardrick McKinney, Texans, 2015-19)
CB: Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars, 2016-19
CB: Johnathan Joseph, Texans, 2011-19
(CB, A.J. Bouye, Texans 2013-16, Jaguars, 2017-19)
S: Kevin Byard, Titans, 2016-present
S: Michael Griffin, Titans, 2007-15
KR/PR: Marc Mariani, Titans, 2010-13, 2016
K: Adam Vinatieri, Colts, 2006-19
P: Shane Lechler, Texans, 2013-17 (Brett Kern, Titans, 2010-19)
What about you? Who would be on your All-AFC South team from 2010-2019?